MARIETTA, GA — Four decades. Three generations. And as many thousands of miles ridden as memories made culminate this Sunday when metro Atlanta’s cycling community gathers to celebrate Free-Flite Bicycles and the Thornton family’s 40 years in business as Cobb County’s longest-operating bicycle retailer and one of the most influential nationwide.
And now one of the oldest locally-owned bike shops in Georgia history.
The party’s free, open to the public, and it starts at 7 p.m.
"This will be an ultimate family reunion for us," said Free-Flite Bicycles president Dan Thornton, who opened the original shop, a skateboard retail storefront, with his late father Jeff in 1977 in Smyrna’s then Belmont Hills Shopping Center at the corner of Windy Hill and Atlanta roads.
A year later the Thorntons would incorporate, pack up their pegboards for north Cobb County, and relocate to a larger space along north Marietta’s Canton Road corridor where their flagship stores have since remained in various brick-and-mortar iterations.
Today, Free-Flite Bicycles operates three full-service Trek Bicycle anchored shops––north Marietta at 2949 Canton Hwy; East Cobb at 4177 Roswell Road; and Sandy Springs at 6014 Sandy Springs Circle––with third-generation general manager Daniel Thornton leading the company’s day-to-day operations.
"We’re looking very forward to seeing countless customers, past and present employees, our former sponsored BMX, mountain, and road bike team riders, and everyone who’s become extended family to us over the years from sharing and advocating in the sport, lifestyle, and common love of cycling and bikes," Dan Thornton added.
Free-Flite Bicycles in its 40 years in business has earned the highest awards, recognitions, and designations the cycling industry has to offer, including Trek’s coveted Elmer J. Sorensen Legends Award in 2010 for industry excellence that included a name plate in Dan Thornton’s honor and on public display in perpetuity in the main lobby of the global cycling manufacturer’s Waterloo, Wisconsin headquarters.
Free-Flite Bicycles has also continually been recognized as one of ‘America’s Best Bike Shops’ by The National Bicycle Dealers Association and for its contributions to advocacy and cash and in-kind donations to trail building efforts with the International Off-Road Bicycling Association and its local Woodstock Southern Off-Road Bicycling Association (SORBA) among many others.
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Photos courtesy Free-Flite Bicycles